Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/136

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PICTURE-WRITING. 123

last century, and familiar to every lover of antiquities and student of history, near Mount Sinai, in Arabia, of a place known as the "Written Mountain" — an accumulation of rocks, on the surfaces of which are delineated an immense number of figures and characters. When this place was first discovered, numberless were the conjectures, and extreme the interest, to which it gave rise in the learned and antiquarian world. Among other probable results anticipated as likely to spring from the deciphering of the characters, it was believed that they would throw additional light on the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea; and in order to satisfy the intense curiosity which prevailed, many of the European governments despatched learned men to examine the hieroglyphics, and, if possible, to construe them. Among those who proceeded on this mission was an English bishop, celebrated in his day for his knowledge in everything pertaining to the ancient world. After the expenditure of a considerable amount of attention and time, it was found that the characters belonged to several languages, in which the Arabic prevailed, and were, for the most part, names, emblematic figures, and short sentences, and the date assigned to the commencement of the novel writing was the sixth century. Now, the difference which is observable between the rock-writing found at Mount Sinai, and almost in the centre of the ancient nursery of civilization, and the same writing discovered on the river banks of North America or along the coast of New Holland, appears